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Jake and I are pretty much all set for the baby to come.  The nursery is almost complete.  The gear is put together (the perks of marrying an engineer).  My belly is huge.  So now we just have to sit around for another month and a half and wait for her to make her grand entrance.  What to do, what to do…. 

I know!  Corn chowder!  As though we don’t already eat enough corn in this place.  But it’s summer and it’s corn season, so we might as well take this golden opportunity (pun intended) to eat as much as possible.  What’s funny is that there really isn’t anything as far from summer food as a hot, thick chowder.  It’s a bit of an oxymoron.  But the past week has been cold and rainy so everything worked out well and Jake and I didn’t have too much of a food identity crisis.

Originally, the idea was to make jalapeno cheddar corn bread.  But corn bread isn’t really a meal, and I didn’t want to have to make anything else (lazy).  So I made a chowder instead.  And it was deeelicious. 

The jalapenos make a big difference in the flavor.  They really gave the soup a good kick that you couldn’t get from plain old salt and pepper.  Obviously, use more or less as you like, but I definitely wouldn’t omit them.  Jake usually doesn’t like jalapenos and even he thought that they were great in this recipe. 

Cheesy Jalapeno Corn Chowder (adapted loosely from Ina Garten):

8 – 10 strips of bacon
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
8 cups chicken broth
3 large light-skinned potatoes, unpeeled and cubed
2 tablespoons chopped jalapenos
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
8 cups of corn (if fresh, cook the corn in boiling water for about 3 minutes, if frozen just use the corn as is)
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

In a large stockpot or dutch oven, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon set it aside, leaving the fat and olive oil in the pot. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter, and cook for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.  Don’t forget to stir the onions to keep them from burning.

Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, jalapenos, and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.  Add the corn to the soup, then add the heavy cream and cheese. Cook for 5 more minutes until the cheese is melted.  Crumble the bacon on top.  The chowder can be refrigerated for a few days, and the leftovers are just as good as the first night.  Yum.

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Let’s take a healthy, fresh, delicious summer crop and make it as unhealthy as possible, shall we?  Unhealthy in the best way possible.  I mean, this is really good.  Obviously, considering the recipe came from Paula Deen.  She puts a pound of butter into every food she makes.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  It has certainly never stopped me from eating her recipes.

My mom used to make a corn casserole but we called it “corn mush” and I think that it was essentially the same thing as this but in a smaller, deeper baking dish so you had to scoop it out.  I remember one time when I was little I asked my mom what was in corn mush and she looked at me with an apologetic expression and said, “Oh Lindsay, you don’t want to know.  You would never eat it again.”  Of course she was implying that it was just a lot of unhealthy foods that I guess she was ashamed to be giving her family, but in my mind I thought she meant that there was something gross ground up in there.  Why I thought that my mom would put worms or maggots or worse into something that she was eating too is beyond me.  But, either way, it was never the same again. 

Now, Paula makes this casserole with canned corn.  I have no idea why.  Do they not grow corn in Georgia?  Maybe she was just trying to make the recipe easier for people.  Either way, I used fresh corn instead.  I didn’t add any extra cream or anything (one of her cans was creamed corn) and it still ended up great.  I actually had leftover corn, so I shucked it and froze it wrapped in aluminum foil for about a week like so:

And it ended up great!  Why buy corn and freeze it during corn season?  It was on sale, but only if you bought 12 ears of it.  And 12 ears of corn is a little ridiculous for a household of 2.  So that’s my story, but really fresh corn would probably be even better.  Just boil it and saw it off and you’re good as gold!

Corn Casserole (adapted from Paula Deen):

6 ears of fresh corn
1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (like Jiffy)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a pot of water to a boil and put the shucked corn cobs in.  Let the water come back to a boil and turn it off and let it sit, covered, for about 12 minutes.  Let it cool a little bit and then cut the corn off the cob. 

In a large bowl, stir together the corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with cheddar. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

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